The title of this post may lead you to believe that I am going to lambaste the current state of digital signage technology. It is instead meant to highlight digital signage’s image problem. For many, digital signage is thought of as just another technology rather than a powerful marketing and communications platform.
Just as a company’s website once resided under the direction of the IT department so too has digital signage fallen into the world of switches, routers, and servers. Digital signage is oft looked at as another pick or shovel in a company’s technology tool shed. It’s a problem that has kept an organization’s digital signage operations siloed from other departments, such as internal communications, graphic design, marketing, and advertising.
Digital signage must speak to the needs of visual merchandisers, brand marketer, and media planners. To do so it needs to become less about the technology and more about what digital signage delivers. It’s my contention that we are trying to communicate to two very different audiences with a single broad message. Non-technology folks care little about the ins and outs of what makes a DS system tick. They just want to know that it works.
There will always be a place for IT in the world of digital signage; in the same way that IT has always remained a key component of a company’s online efforts. In order to get the necessary monetary, creative, and strategic attention from business leaders, digital signage needs to shed its techno-centric layers.
When digital signage is only framed by its technological guts, company’s miss the opportunities that can be realized in letting interdisciplinary teams participate in the platform’s refinement. Could you imagine what the web would look like today if it hadn’t expanded beyond a company’s IT department?
The look, feel, and direction of a company’s website is lead by digital marketing teams for a reason. The creativity and vision such individuals bring to the platform make its technological underpinnings disappear. The technology fades away and the experience becomes the driver.
I have had conversations with marketing executives who lamented the fact that their companies’ digital signage networks were designed solely by the IT department. They would tell me of the time, effort, and money it would cost them to make these systems suitable for their marketing needs. It’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Most people only care about technology when it doesn’t work. That’s not how digital signage should be thought of. The more the digital signage conversation is framed around brand engagement, customer experience, and marketing message, the greater attention the platform will attract.